Rotations

by Neil Campbell

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about

Neil Campbell is a Liverpool based composer who has built up a considerable body of systems or algorithmic musical compositions, i.e. music which is designed rather than composed in a conventional sense. Once the rules for these pieces are set the pieces run 'automatically'.

This approach to making contemporary music has its origins in the minimalist works of composers such as Steve Reich and the ambient works of Brian Eno, amongst others.

Following postgradute studies in Music (specialising in Composition) Neil has gone on to produce three albums which fall into this category - Rotations (2002), Assembly (2005) and The Path (2012).

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'The power of the world works in circles. The seasons are a circle and so is the life of Man'

Rotations

This piece in five short movements for multi-tracked pianos is characterised by the use of simple archetypal material, e.g. triads, fifths, descending scales, all set into relationships through canonical processes across different registers. It is music designed rather than composed - once the rules are set, the pieces 'run' automatically. The compositional technique which underlies this is the layering of melodic strands stemming from the same basic material, but stretched at different lengths so that the melodies move in and out of synchronisation creating new relationships with one another. This technique has its origins in the early music of Steve Reich, and continued by Brian Eno in his ambient works. Given the genesis of the pieces it can be observed that in most cases there is no sense of beginning and end. The pieces are quite literally Rotations; loops which end at the point at which they would loop.

Nocturnes

The 3 Nocturnes are enigmatic pieces for solo piano pointing stylistically and perhaps self-consciously to the work of Erik Satie. The pieces were conceived at different times and collected together because they all seemed to evoke similar night-like atmospheres. The first piece, initially entitled 'Edges of Edges' was a musical reflection of the isolated atmosphere created by the painting 'Vertigo ' by Dali. The second, initially entitled 'Perpetual Shadings' is characterised by odd chromatic shifts, especially in its undulating middle section. The final Nocturne alternates song-like between a mysterious call and a definitive response.

64 Hexagrams for John Cage

For this piece we deliberately recorded a track of background traffic noise to add into the mix. A contemplative piece, it is constructed from four notes (C A G and E) proceeding in groups at different rates in different registers. Gaps created by this rhythmic process are augmented creating 64 sections each of 1, 3 and 5 notes in length. The 'I Ching - the Chinese Book of Changes' used by the composer John Cage as the strategic basis of some indeterminate works, contains such 64 such hexagrams, series of broken and unbroken lines defining particular courses of action to take in any situation for which the oracle is consulted.

credits

released January 1, 2003

Music composed and Performed by Neil Campbell
Engineered by Andy Fernihough
Image: Richard Hooper
CD Design: Peter Dover

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Neil Campbell Liverpool, UK

Liverpool composer and multi-instrumentalist Neil Campbell has been described by Classical Guitar Magazine as 'an outstanding guitarist whose originality of thought makes him far more than just another gifted purveyor of finger acrobatics.'

His work traverses many musical styles including minimalism, progressive rock, jazz and ambient music.
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